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about 2 months ago by Helen Doughty

Future of work | 'Employers must evolve to meet needs of workforce'

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Recent events have forced both employees and employers to work differently.

Offices, restaurants, leisure facilities and pubs were all forced to shut following the UK Government’s guidelines to enforce a nationwide lockdown in an attempt to curb the coronavirus outbreak, which has drastically changed the world of work.

However, new research has confirmed that many UK professionals will reduce their time spent in the office, due to the new working patterns that have been prompted due to COVID-19. In fact, almost half of Brits predict a permanent change to their employers’ approach to flexible working once the lockdown lifts and people are allowed back to work.

According to O2 Business’ new report The Flexible Future of Work, conducted in partnership with ICM and YouGov, many employees revealed that they would be reluctant to give up their new way of working, as nearly half claimed that flexible working will increase, while 33% expect the amount they work from home to increase by at least three days after lockdown ceases.

Changing commutes

If flexible continues to prove the norm, 63% of respondents said that they would be willing to live up to an hour away from the office, a figure that is double the amount that currently do so, which would give employees greater flexibility about where they can work and live.

This could likely lead to increasing competition for businesses to attract and retain talent, meaning organisations would need to ensure they are adopting new tech advancements in order to maintain their employees and attract new talent.

A flexible future

With no plans to reduce social distancing any time soon, remote and flexible working is an option employers can no longer ignore. As such, more and more employers are relying on tech platforms to help them carry out the same talks they would in the workplace. From software such as Zoom and Slack, these tech offerings have made working remotely a possibility for organisations up and down the UK.

This is something that O2’s Director of Business Sales and Service believes companies needs to stay up-to-date with. Katy Liddell explained: “With more of us working flexibly than ever before, for most businesses, digital infrastructure has become more important than physical infrastructure. In the face of this, businesses must continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of their workforce to ensure they continue to attract and retain talent.”

In contrast, however, O2’s study discovered that some employees are finding the lack of social interaction due to the lockdown challenging. 30% of those surveyed stated that working from home can be lonely, while 26% admitted to missing informal socialising with co-workers.

With this in mind, Liddell emphasised the importance of communication tools such as Slack and Microsoft Teams, and why employers should enforce this type of software to try to boost morale among team members, while also combating the feelings of loneliness.

She added: “Whilst it’s difficult to fully gauge what the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be, The Flexible Future of Work shows us how the demand for flexible working and the role of technology in our working life is accelerating during lockdown, and how this might shape the future of the workforce. What is clear is the ever-critical role connectivity will continue to play in our working lives going forward, wherever we are working from.”